Home > copyrights, piracy > Defendanat in KaZaA case seeks to reduce damages

Defendanat in KaZaA case seeks to reduce damages

Last July, a jury of his peers in Boston found defendant Joel Tenenbaum liable for copyright infringement to the tune of $675,000, or, $22,000 per song that he shared over the KaZaA peer-to-per file sharing network (parents of college aged students downloading music in their dorms take note). Tenenbaum is, of course, represented by some of the best lawyers in the land who want music and all copyrighted works to be free. His lawyers have filed a goofy brief with the court asking that the award be overturned as it is unconstitutionally too high. Too bad there isn’t such a rule in the law that I am aware of. Mr. Tenenbaum – pay up.

Categories: copyrights, piracy
  1. January 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    “A punitive damages award of $145 million, where full compensatory damages are $1 million, is excessive and violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” State Farm v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003). Moreover, “in practice, few awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages will satisfy due process.”

    Many issues here, but I think an argument can be made that damages of $22,000 is excessive and violates the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment for a copyrighted work that costs $0.99 on iTunes. In light of State Farm, the argument is even stronger. There’s a law review note or article out there from 2007 or so that argues persuasively that copyright damages are unconstitutional under State Farm.

    I don’t necessarily agree with this view (or State Farm or its progeny, Gore, for that matter. But I wouldn’t call the argument “goofy” nor do I think the lawyers want all music and all copyright works to be free. I don’t think I’ve heard or read where any lawyer ever said that.

    • January 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      Great Larry, thanks for the site. I think that puts the case into a better context for our readers. I agree, I overstated the case when I used the term “goofy.”

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